MLB Investigating Handful of Players for Alleged Sports Betting Breaches

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Major League Baseball (MLB) is investigating five players who allegedly breached the league’s rules on sports betting. The probe is highlighted by Tucupita Marcano, an infielder with the San Diego Padres who is accused of betting on baseball during his time last year on the Pittsburgh Pirates roster.

Tucupita Marcano hits a grand slam on May 22, 2023, while playing for the Pittsburgh Pirates. Marcano is the subject of an MLB investigation to determine if he bet on baseball during his time in Pittsburgh. If he did, he would face a lifetime ban from the game. (Image: USA Today Sports)

MLB players, as well as coaches, team personnel, front office staff, umpires, and others employed by the league, are explicitly barred from gambling on all forms of baseball, from the minors to the pros. Those who have “no duty to perform” found to have broken the rule face one-year suspensions, while players and others with a duty to perform on the field face lifetime bans for violating the sports gambling condition.

The Wall Street Journal broke the news that the MLB believes Marcano, 24, last season bet on games involving the Pirates while he sat on the bench because of an injury. The WSJ reports that “there is no evidence of games being manipulated at this time,” which suggests Marcano didn’t bet against the Pirates or convince his teammates to throw or fix a game to his liking.

The league is additionally reviewing whether four other players bet on baseball while competing in the minor leagues. Their names were not disclosed.

Marcano Facing Lifetime Ban

If the MLB determines that Marcano bet on games while in Pittsburgh, the infielder could face a lifetime ban. He would become only the second active player to be banned indefinitely from Major League Baseball and the first in 100 years.

The only other active pro baseball player to be banned for life by the MLB came in 1924 when New York Giants outfielder Jimmy O’Connell was permanently excluded after offering a $500 bribe to a Philadelphia Phillies player to throw a game. O’Connell’s coach, Cozy Dolan, was also banned for being in on the fix.

Pete Rose, the most notable man to be banned by MLB, had already retired in 1989 when he agreed to a lifetime prohibition from the game for betting on Cincinnati Reds games he managed.

Marcano has yet to play a game this year, as he continues to recover from a torn ACL he suffered last July. He was claimed off waivers in November by the Padres. The team says it’s aware of the MLB investigation into Marcano’s suspected sports gambling.

We are aware of an active investigation by Major League Baseball regarding a matter that occurred when the player in question was a member of another organization and not affiliated with the San Diego Padres. We will not have any further comment until the investigative process has been completed,” a team statement read.

Marcano made his pro debut in April 2021. His career stats include a .217 batting average, five dingers, 34 runs batted in, and seven stolen bases in 149 games. He’s made more than $2.7 million during his three-year career and is set to be paid $746,000 in 2024.

Sports Betting Scandals

Marcano facing a lifetime ban is yet another baseball betting scandal for the MLB.

The report follows the much more publicized events involving Shohei Ohtani’s interpreter, Ippei Mizuhara, who recently pleaded guilty to bank and tax fraud in a sports betting case that prosecutors allege he stole almost $17 million from the two-time American League MVP to pay off sports betting debts.

While the story rocked baseball, there’s been no proof that Ohtani, one of the league’s biggest superstars, had any knowledge of his interpreter’s betting activities.

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